The House Ethics Committee has strongly condemned the actions of Rep. Laura Richardson, of California’s 37th district, finding her guilty of improperly pressuring her official staff to campaign for her, destroying evidence, and tampering with witness testimony. The 16-page report from the committee was uncompromising in its denunciation of her behavior; it said Richardson’s staffers depicted a horrendous picture of their experience working with her and her frequent attempts to intimidate them on a regular basis:
At the completion of its investigation, the ISC unanimously concluded that there was substantial reason to believe that Representative Laura Richardson violated the Purpose Law, 31 U.S.C. § 1301; House Rule XXIII clauses 1, 2, and 8; Clause 2 of the Code of Ethics for Government Service; and other standards of conduct, by improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work; and by obstructing the investigation of the Committee and the ISC through the alteration or destruction of evidence, the deliberate failure to produce documents responsive to requests for information and a subpoena, and attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses.
So not only did Richardson, who is buddies with racebaiting Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) (whom the House is also investigating) intimidate her staff into working on her campaign; she actually destroyed evidence that showed she had done so. Yet Richardson had the gall to accuse the investigation into her behavior of being racially motivated, because she is black. She filed a 22-page rebuttal to the Ethics Committee, claiming it had acted in a prejudicial manner toward her. She said she would pay a fine and accept a reprimand if the Committee would eschew putting her on trial in an adjudicatory hearing, claiming that a trial would take too much time and waste taxpayer money.
The Committee wasn’t buying it. They rejected her proposal and were harsh in their language:
Richardson’s views weave an elaborate fabrication out of threads of decontextualized evidence and outright prevarication, in an absurd attempt to rebut the majority of the tremendous evidence against her … an utter absence of true remorse for her misuse of official resources and, equally as significant, for what she has put her staff through, as well as a near-total deflection of responsibility for this matter.
Richardson had delayed the interview with the committee because of her upcoming bruising primary fight with Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA). She finally agreed to the interview in June, but then, incredibly, cut the interview short, demanding that it end so she could participate in a congressional softball game. Unsurprisingly, she never rescheduled a follow-up interview.
Although the ethics probe of Richardson began in 2010, she had aroused suspicion before; she had defaulted on three different home loans while at the same time having donated over $77,000 to her campaign and dodged taxes and utility bills.